The Rubik’s Cube is a Hungarian invention named after its inventor, architect Ernő Rubik. It is a colourful puzzle in the shape of a cube that has captivated the world since its invention in the ‘80s. But how could it help us solve the current coronavirus pandemic or any other pressing matters?
Ernő Rubik himself has written an article in The Washington Post in which he explains why it might help us find answers to the pressing matters of our era. He admits that the first time he made the Cube, it took nearly a month for him to figure it out, but he sees the possibility of ending crises with the help of the mentality that allows people to solve the Cube itself.
As Ernő Rubik points out, the expression of solving the Cube has become a metaphor for solving “vexing” and complex matters,
as he puts it, and it has become a shorthand for intricate matters that do not have an easy answer. He thinks that it might not only become a shorthand for the coronavirus, as the world was shocked by this pandemic and people are still blindly searching for answers, but the clue to solving it as well.
“A Rubik’s Cube is engaged individually, but solving it is about human solidarity,” Ernő Rubik wrote.
He argues that the Rubik’s Cube is a good metaphor for teaching humanity how it can cope with its problems. It is not force or impatience or sly acts that get one closer to solving the Cube. In fact, it is quite the opposite, as it teaches people patience and effort. There are more than “43 quintillion possible combinations”, but it is only one that leads to success. Yet, people irrespective of their age, beliefs, gender, race, or any other attributes can be puzzled by and solve the Cube. People might feel overwhelmed or powerless when trying to figure out the Cube on their own. Of course, there are dedicated people who can achieve such things themselves, but the majority of people who have ever held a Rubik’s Cube in their hands do not know how to do that. Even though this is true, many people who, by themselves, might never have been able to reach the rewarding conclusion of such a puzzle can now do so. People are best when sharing knowledge and learning:
“[I]f true innovation is the calling of the few, teaching and learning is the realm of many”.
Although, in essence, solving the Cube is a “solitary challenge”, it is something that also calls up a deeper human quality: “empathy”. Most people who have solved the Rubik’s Cube learned how to do so from someone else, read it in a book, or found a tutorial about it. What is important is that it shows us that
“[W]hen humanity faces a crisis, we must always remember that we are more alike than different; it is our similarities that make us human in the first place […] the successful approach will be based on comprehending our shared humanity”.
Humanity needs to endure failures and persevere in the face of all odds until it finally finds the answers it seeks. And when it does find answers, mankind needs to share that knowledge because it is only then that it moves all of us forward and solves the crises of our modern age. Here is hoping that the chaotic blend of some of the most pressing matters of 2020 will mark a turning point and help us realise our vulnerability and shape humanity to have more concern for its own fate.